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Health dept has issues with RV park

The River Hills RV Park has run afoul of the State Health Department, which regulates RV parks.

The RV park will be located largely on the driving range of the River Hills golf course, near the Pelican River outlet of Little Detroit.

Developer Pat Onstad last month had to halt construction of a hillside retaining wall because he didn't have a city building permit, and the city building inspector refused to grant one until it can be shown the wall is properly designed.

Also last month, the state health department told the developer that he needs to rework his plan to give each RV unit at least 2,000 square feet of space. The existing plan provides enough space in aggregate, but not for individual units.

"This correspondence is to inform you that the interpretation of the 2,000-square-foot minimum site size rule to apply to a group of sites in aggregate is not acceptable," according to a letter to Onstad from Laura Huseby, plan review official with the Environmental Health Services Section of the Health Department.

In the Aug. 18 letter, the Health Department also asked for information about proposed RV sites "allegedly located on excavated soil, with a retaining wall which is not indicated as such in either plan submitted to MDH."

In order to approve such sites, the health department requires that the project engineer provide certification that the wall is properly designed, she wrote.

On Aug; 28, Detroit Lakes Community Development Director Larry Remmen wrote to the developer to explain "the options you have relative to the retaining wall construction at River Hills RV Park."

Option 1 -- Obtain a building permit for the proposed wall. Detailed plans signed by a qualified engineer are required, and must include plans for screening the wall.

Before a building permit can be approved, the city council needs to review the retaining wall proposal and decide whether it needs to reopen the Environmental Assessment Worksheet process.

"The council will need to decide if the wall is a substantial change to the project that has potential for significant environmental impacts," Remmen wrote. If so, "an EAW must be prepared and public input obtained through the EAW process."

Option 2 -- Remove the wall and design some other system to alter the slope.

Any grading or alteration in this steep slope area will require a submission of building excavation and grading plans. To get a building permit, engineering plans and design must meet the city's codes before construction can start.

Also, if the finished slope exceeds 30 percent, a variance is required, which means a public hearing must be held.

Option 3 -- Remove the wall, restore the bank and move units to an alternate location.

"If you decide to remove the wall and restore the slope to its original contours, you could develop the RV park and 124 units as shown on the original PUD (planned unit development)," Remmen wrote. "You could also apply to amend the PUD and relocate the six RV units somewhere else in the Muskrat Lake tier."

Once the city received the developer's application for an amended PUD, a pubic hearing would be scheduled at the planning commission meeting, and then the city council would either approve or deny the proposed amendment.

"The unknown with any of these options will be the reaction of the Department of Natural Resources and the Pelican River Watershed District," Remmen said.